Through the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, the UK government requires internet service providers (ISPs) to collect data from their customers’ online activities and keep it for at least a year. Meanwhile, in the US, President Donald Trump in 2017 signed into law legislation that would allow ISPs to sell the data they collect.
It is hard to tell how much data the ISPs collect and how they actually handle it. Nevertheless, these companies are under obligation to turn the data over to the security agencies.
Also, given the value that data has, especially in the era of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the temptation to package and sell it in the marketplace is high.
All these push businesses to find ways to secure their data and protect their privacy, such as using no-log VPNs, which denies the ISP from tracking and keeping a record of your user activity.
It’s your responsibility
As a business, it is to be concerned about how your ISP collects data, how it stores it, and with whom it shares it. It is also important to know whether they benefit financially from this data beyond what they receive from you as their client.
For the last few years, online Industrial espionage, economic espionage, corporate spying or corporate espionage has become a major issue. According to a report by PriceWaterhouseCooper (PWC), about €60 billion is lost annually in economic growth and about 289,000 jobs in Europe due to the cyber-theft of trade secrets.
It is not far fetched to think that one of the places perpetrators might target are internet service providers.
The ISP could be honest and out to safeguard the privacy of its customers. However, their lack of security ends up, making them a point of weakness.
So what steps can a business take to protect itself?
The difficult steps to take
One of the steps a business can take is to join others in lobbying the government, regulators, and legislators to develop a legal framework that gives them and other internet users more control over how their data is collected and used.
Another way to go about it is to seek judicial, statutory, or other forms of reviews on how the ISPs handle the data they collect. That includes whether they pass it over to third parties and whether they have proper security measures in place to protect the data from possible intrusions.
As you can imagine, these are not easy steps to take, and success cannot be guaranteed. In particular, it requires a lot of networking and forming coalitions with other businesses and stakeholders. This is not easy to achieve, especially for a small business.
However, that does not mean you can just sit and wait for someone to fix the problem and secure your data. You can do something at least to prevent an ISP from logging your online activity.
A step you can easily take
The best way to do that is to use a virtual private network (VPN). This online solution encrypts your data before it leaves your computer and directs it to a server elsewhere. It is given a different IP address before it is decrypted and released to the internet.
Likewise, the data coming in passes through this server, and it is encrypted before arriving at your ISP and then coming to your device. That means whatever the ISP collects and stores cannot be made sense of.
However, it is not automatic that by using a VPN, you have fixed the problem. You might just end up replacing one entity that is collecting your traffic data with another. You could easily take away your ISP’s power and give it to a VPN service, which could more easily sell it to others.
There is a solution to this problem, though, choosing to use no-logs VPNs. These are VPNs that are designed not to collect and store data about your online activity.
One way to tell that a VPN does not collect your data and even sell it to others is that it charges you for the services it offers you.
Indeed no service is ever free on the internet. You are either paying with your attention (looking at ads), your data sold to third parties, or cash.
Often when you pay with your attention, it is also possible that you are paying with your data. This is why you should be keen on not having your data collected by the ISP that you look for a VPN service provider that guarantees you that. However, you should be willing and ready to pay for the service.
Your data is the new gold, including your activity on the internet that your ISP can record. Many out there are willing to pay top dollar or break the law for it. It is therefore important you do all you can to safeguard your privacy. For a small business, using solutions like no log VPNs is a good place to start.